By Sally Voth
Gov. Bob McDonnell is challenging Virginia's college students to demonstrate their business acumen at an upcoming contest.
Shenandoah University business students are among those participating in the Governor's Business Plan Challenge May 2 in Richmond, Generra Peck, who works in the governor's office as assistant director for legislative affairs and strategic initiatives, said Wednesday.
Peck said the competition is open to all public and private universities, colleges and community colleges in the state.
"This is our first year for the challenge," she said. "Last year, Gov. McDonnell led the 'Year of the Entrepreneur.'"
However, the college challenge grew out of last year's theme, said Paul Logan, McDonnell's deputy director of communications.
"We saw in the governor's office an opportunity to pull together the best from each university and have a statewide competition, and we have a lot of university talent," he said.
Logan noted that University of Virginia students won a start-up competition at last year's South by Southwest Interactive Festival for a mobile app for school safety.
"This was an opportunity we saw to be able to showcase that and to help connect those ideas with business leaders and other opportunities," he said. "[In announcing the competition, McDonnell] said the next great Virginia company might just be an idea in a dorm room or a lab right now.
"Universities and university towns and the talent that's cultivated there, those are also hubs for job creation and entrepreneurship."
Peck said business leaders will help mentor the collegiate teams and entrepreneurs will be on the judging panel.
Alesia Slocum, a professor of entrepreneurship at Shenandoah University, said the competition falls around the same time as finals week, but the university still plans to field a team.
"I think it's an excellent idea," she said. "I think it's always very much of interest to students to find ways not only to get the possibility of earning money or winning prizes, but also to get much more visibility [and] also to bring their ideas to a wider forum."
For more information about the competition, which includes a prize of up to $10,000 to further develop the winning plan, go to www.governor.virginia.gov/governorschallenge/.
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org